Pictured at the National Space Centre, Elfordstown, Midleton in Co Cork, are Glanmire Community College 1st year students - Daisy Horan, Niki Orzechozski, Ciara Higgins and Alex Gray with Bruce Hannah, CTO National Space Centre. (Pic: Jim Coughlan)

Students from Glanmire Community College will make history this year as they have been announced as one of two schools who will make direct radio contact with the International Space Station (ISS) while in orbit. 

This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity is part of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station programme (ARISS), which will see the Cork school and Tallaght Community School students speaking with Italian astronaut Paulo Nespoli while he orbits the Earth on the ISS.

Nespoli and the rest of the crew on the ISS will be traveling at 27,600 km/h south west from the New York horizon towards Italy and Poland, and for six to 12 minutes will be passing directly over Glanmire Community College.

In order to carry out thr real-time Earth-to-space radio contact, which uses amateur radio equipment to beam a line-of-sight signal to the ISS, the school will set up a temporary radio station on the grounds which will include an antenna, two radio systems and a back-up line diverted via Belgium or Italy, in case of interference locally.

Glanmire Community College was thrilled to be successfully chosen this year due to the quality of their education application proposal, which showcased their innovation in the area of science and in particular space science, putting them light years ahead of competing schools.

Speaking with excitement at this announcement, Principal Ronan McCarthy said: “I speak on behalf of myself and all the students and staff here at Glanmire Community College when I say that our excitement levels have hit another stratosphere! We are extremely proud of our science programme and are delighted that it has been recognised globally with this amazing opportunity.

We are excited to further blast off into the sphere of science with a whole spectrum of exciting mini events and projects in preparation for actual space contact. This is an opportunity and experience which our students will never forget.”

Due to the uncertain nature of life in outer space, an exact date for this contact cannot be given. However, you are advised to ‘watch this space’.